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The Central Otago wine region, located close to Queenstown, is home to many of New Zealand’s premium and award-winning wineries. Steeped in early pioneering and gold mining history, this mountainous and rugged region has rapidly become a leading producer of high quality, cool-climate wines.
The Central Otago region is made up of six distinct wine sub-regions. They are Wanaka, Gibbston, Bannockburn, Cromwell/ Pisa/ Lowburn, Bendigo and Alexandra.
Each sub-region has varying mountainous terrain, terroir, and climate that produces distinctive characteristics in many wine varietals.
This sub-region, lying 80 kilometres and several mountain ranges north of Queenstown, boasts some of the world’s most picturesque vineyards. Cooler and slightly wetter than the Queenstown and Cromwell areas, beautiful Lake Wanaka provides welcome reflected radiation and mitigates frost producing delicate and vivid wines.
The extreme climate has rewarded careful site selection with wines of great intensity and finesse, with an increasing focus being seen into sub-regional expression. Situated east of Queenstown along the spectacular Kawarau Gorge, Gibbston hasn’t looked back since the first commercial bottling in 1987. The highest sub-region, its cooler climate and north-facing hillside vines ripen later than neighbouring sub-regions, giving lighter though still intense wines.
On the south bank of the Kawarau River, at the southern terminus of the Cromwell Valley, the vineyards occupy one of the warmest, driest sites in the region. Harvest can be up to a month ahead of other sub-regions, and the wines produced are highly distinctive and complex.
This area is located on the western side of Lake Dunstan stretching north for some 25km from the township of Cromwell. The majority of plantings are situated on the lower terraces and valley floor running parallel to the snow-capped Pisa mountain range producing seductive wines.
Northeast of Cromwell, Bendigo is possibly the warmest of all the sub-regions with vines planted on gentle north facing slopes. Wide-scale plantings (in the context of the region) on stony soils capture the extreme climates hot summer sun and cold clear nights.
In 1864, a frenchman called Jean Desire Feraud, was the first person to plant grape cuttings in the Alexander sub-region, and his stone winery still stands within the spectacular schist landscape.
The most southerly sub-region, the climate is dry and runs to extremes in both summer and winter. The marked daily climatic variations right up to harvest give vividly varietal, aromatic, finely structured wines.
Our tours visit different cellar doors every single day! This keeps our tours interesting for our guides and also allows guests to make vineyard requests. Our tours are all pre-planned and booked in with each vineyard creating personalised service at each stop.
If you have certain vineyards you wish to visit, it may pay to contact us so that we can recommend the tour which can accommodate those requests. All vineyard requests need to be made in advance or at the time of booking.
On our Gourmet Food & Wine Tour and our Boutique Wine Tour, we visit two vineyards in the Gibbston region and two vineyards in the Cromwell or Bannockburn basin.
On our Classic Wine Tour, we stay in the Gibbston region visiting the Gibbston Valley cave and then two further vineyards around the same area.
A large scale producer and well-known brand, Amisfield has multiple vineyards and has one of the largest single vineyards in Central Otago. The stunning cellar door, restaurant and one of their smaller vineyards overlook the beautiful Lake Hayes, situated between Queenstown and Arrowtown.
New Zealand family-owned producer, Akarua, make wine from six vineyards across Central Otago which span over 110 hectares. Known for a variety of wines, including sparkling wines which are processed at their winery in Bannockburn.
Akarua Wines & Kitchen
The Queenstown based cellar door and restaurant of Akarua is situated near the shores of Lake Hayes and Arrowtown. Delicious food is matched carefully with the purity of Akarua wines to create a memorable dining experience.
First planted in 1997, this boutique producer is run by a Kiwi and French husband-and-wife-team who met whilst studying for their wine making degrees in Burgundy, France. Aurum are committed to an environmentally aware philosophy and hold the Biogro Organic NZ certification.
The beautiful Waitiri is the home to both the Bald Hills Wine cellar door and Cargo Brewery, the full package! Bald Hills are a boutique operation with a 10 hectare vineyards located in the dramatic Bannockburn region.
Planted in 1994 and now sitting at 13 hectares, the family-owned vineyard is one of the smallest sites in Central Otago that boasts its own winery. In addition to the traditional Central Otago varieties, Brennan also produce zinfandel, tempranillo and pinot grigio.
Burn Cottage Vineyard Property is a twenty-four hectare estate in the foothills of the Pisa range in Central Otago, New Zealand. The vineyard is owned by the Sauvage family which also owns the celebrated Koehler Ruprecht estate in the Pfalz region of Germany. Burn Cottage have created a unique closed farm on their site, in order to produce biodynamic wine.
Named after the Carrick Range, this winery makes wines that are estate-grown, wild fermented and certified organic. From their 23.5 hectares they craft a diverse range of styles with a focus on quality and small-batches. The vineyard, winery, restaurant and cellar door are located in Bannockburn, Central Otago.
This dramatic location can be reached by driving the original stage coach road to Queenstown, and you’ll need a drink after navigating that road! Chard Farm is historically the second ever winery located in Gibbston Valley and is owned by the same Family, the Hay’s, who transformed in from Farm to Winery in 1987.
Established in 1985, Cloudy Bay was one of the first five wine producers to venture into Marlborough. At the time, it was almost an unimaginable place to set-up a vineyard. They have now also established vineyards in the equally seemingly unlikely location of Central Otago. Their Cellar door is located in Northburn which commands magnificent views.
Coal Pit Vineyard covers 12 hectares of land in the heart of Gibbston. The vineyard is planted with 7 hectares of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc vines that date back to 1994, some of the oldest in Gibbston. Coal Pit is one of the few single vineyards in Gibbston where the grapes are grown, handpicked and crafted into wines on site. Coal Pit are currently part way through the BioGro organic conversion and will be fully certified by 2023.
Established in 1999, the Renaissance vineyard is the home to Desert Heart’s cellar door and café. The land offers the quintessential ‘Heart of the Desert’ experience in the timeless and immense landscape. Desert Heart embraces the philosophy of organics and permaculture to ensure the land is used in a stable, sustainable way while maintaining the natural order of our physical environment.
Domain Road Vineyard, located in Bannockburn, is a family-owned vineyard producing award-winning red and white wines. The original 6.5 hectares of vines expanded in 2011 with the addition of another 10 hectares of land adjacent to Felton Road vineyard. The dramatic and bumpy landscape makes things a little difficult for building, so their cellar door has been cleverly crafted from 2 shipping containers, which overlook the beautiful vineyards and are surrounded by mountains.
Felton Road Winery produced it’s first vintage in 1997 and since then has achieved worldwide recognition. Felton Road fosters a biodynamic approach with a focus on sustainability and quality fruit. Felton is available by private appointment only on a private tour.
Gibbston Valley Winery
The ‘original’ winery in Central Otago. Alan Brady, one of the first pioneers in the region, planted experimental vines on a small patch in Gibbston in the early 80s, and the rest is history! Gibbston Valley is now the biggest name in Central Otago, producing wine from their Gibbston and Bendigo vineyards.
Former minister of conservation New Zealand, Denis Marshall, and wife Ulrike Kurenbach, bought a farmland block in 1995 in the spectacular Gibbston valley with the vision for growing vines with minimal interference to the natural environment. In 2001 they planted the first pinot noir wines, and with careful land use and soil management, Dennis hoped to create a sustainable, artisan winery that delivered vintages of the greatest character.
Kinross is located on the old Kinross Station in Gibbston Valley, established in the late 1860's by pioneering Otago farmer, Thomas Kinross, who ran a thriving Trading Post, farm and gold agency on this site. Today, Kinross is the official cellar door for five boutique wine producers: Kinross, Coal Pit, Hawkshead, Valli and Wild Irishman. Guests have the opportunity to sample a larger range of varietals from multiple winemakers, or try out the wonderful bistro and vineyard accommodation.
Producing Central Otago varietals since 1994, the vineyard is located in Lowburn, with the cellar door located just 5 minutes out of Queenstown.
Another big name from the region, Mt Difficulty started in 1992 when ‘The Gang of Four’ (owners of five newly planted vineyards in Bannockburn) decided to join together on a handshake to produce wine under one label. Mt Difficulty now produces blends and single vineyards from all over Central Otago.
Pioneer Alan Brady started Mt Edward after he left Gibbston Valley Winery. Now, it is family-owned business, and BioGro certified organic across its 5 estate vineyards. Mt Edward are known for doing things a little differently; they were the first in New Zealand to make Vermouth and have wine on tap.
Owned by husband-and-wife team, Mischa and Andy, their vineyard is located in the sub-region of Bendigo, on the lakefront terraces of Bendigo Station. Mischa’s consists of 26 hectares of plantings, producing 7 styles of wine from 5 varietals, which can be tasted in their Cromwell cellar door.
Originally planted in 2000, the original cellar door was the wool shed from the sheep station which the vineyard now occupies. In 2021 they moved just down the road to a beautiful new cellar door in the middle of the vines. Mt Rosa’s goal is to limit the pretentious element in an attempt to create approachable, consistent wines which encourage the consumption of not just a glass, but the whole bottle.
Maude is a family-owned wine company, created by experienced winemaking couple Sarah-Kate and Dan Dineen. Producing hand crafted wines from their custom build winery amidst the stunning back drop of Lake Wanaka in Central Otago, New Zealand. The family estate vineyard, Mt Maude, was planted in 1994 on the steep north facing slopes of the sheltered Maungawera Valley just outside of Wanaka, Central Otago.
In August 2017, Nockie’s palette expanded upon its original vision by purchasing Georgetown Vineyard, where the award-winning Pinot Noir and Pinot Rosé grapes were harvested, in Central Otago, New Zealand. The Georgetown Vineyard is situated at the Cromwell end of the Kawarau Gorge and sits on the site of the historic Georgetown. The cellar door is located at Stoneridge Estate, commanding beautiful views of Lake Hayes.
Established in 1998, Peregrine are a family-owned business and renowned producer in the region, with vineyards in Gibbston, Pisa and Bendigo. The architecturally designed cellar door and winery evokes the image of a falcon wing, and has won accolades from around the world. Peregrine’s conservation efforts aim to save the saddleback and re-establish the New Zealand falcon in Central Otago.
Almost 25 years ago, Prophet’s Rock set themselves one goal: to prove that Central Otago could produce some of the finest wines in the world. That no-compromise obsession began in the vineyards and continues to this day. They produce 6 types of wine from 5 varietals, from 3 vineyards Benidgo and Pisa. (Available by appointment only, on private tours)
Quartz Reef was born as the Central Otago wine industry began to bloom - from their inception they have championed a philosophy of biodynamics and organics. Widely considered as a far-sighted pioneer of the Central Otago wine region, Rudi Bauer was awarded Winemaker of the Year in 1999 and again in 2010.
Founded in 1982, Rolfe and Lois were one of the first wine pioneers in the region. Now, the vineyard is 15 hectares, overlooking Lake Wanaka, Ruby Island, the Southern Alps and beyond. Rippon produce a small quantity of Gamay, a rare find in the region, and Osteiner, not found anywhere else in Central Otago.
Founded in 1991, Rockburn began as a 3ha ‘hobby’ block vineyard at lake Hayes near Arrowtown. Today, Rockburn consists of over 45ha in Lake Hayes, Gibbston and Mt Pisa and have their own winery in Cromwell.
Owned by the pioneering Marlborough winemaking Allan Scott family, Scott Base Vineyard is situated in one of the most beautiful regions of Aotearoa, overlooking the township of Cromwell and Lake Dunstan. Originally established in 1994, the six hectare mostly north facing vineyard has increased in size incrementally as waste corners and terraces were planned to utilise the sloping nature of the vineyard layout.
Nockie’s Palette Wines and Stoneridge Estate have collaborated to offer a one-of-a-kind wine tasting & art experience in the heart of the Central Otago wine region. Discover our unique garden setting and learn the fascinating story of the artists behind both wineries as our hosts expertly guide you through tastings of our beautifully-crafted boutique wines.
Te Kano Estate
The beating heart of Te Kano Estate, Northburn is the largest of the four vineyards and their spiritual home. An extensive Kōwhai regeneration project is taking place here using seed harvested from an ancient ancestor tree. Spanning 102 hectares, the sheer size of the site has offered unique opportunities to explore a wide variety of soil types, aspects and slopes, and perfectly match these to a variety of Pinot Noir clones. The cellar door is a cantilevered building overlooking the Bannockburn vineyard with breath-taking views of the Kawarau river.
Terra Sancta means special place. With four vineyards and a winery based in the premium Central Otago subregion of Bannockburn, the soul of Terra Sancta Estate is on Felton Road. Home to the first vines planted in Bannockburn, Terra Sancta is a wonderland of detail and vibrancy - conveyed in their products, labels and map. Welcome.
Established in 1998 and named after winemaker Grant Taylor’s Great-Great Grandfather, Giuseppe Valli, who immigrated to New Zealand from an Italian winemaking background. Valli was founded with the aim of creating true representations of Otago’s subregions with unflinching intensity and purity. This was also a first for the region – no one had attempted to capture, let alone master the developing subregional plot that has now begun to unfold as the next exciting chapter in the Otago wine story. Grant has won the trophy for ‘Best Pinot Noir’ at the world’s largest International Wine Competition in London an unprecedented four times – a feat achieved by no other winemaker in the world.
Wild Earth Wines
This boutique family-owned winery produced their first vintage in 2004. Wild Earth produce award winning pinot noir and also some wonderful examples of aromatic pinot gris, chardonnay, sweet and dry style rieslings and beautiful pinot noir rosé. Wild Earth’s owner, Quintin, also founded the Stoaker Room, which is famous for slow cooking, smoking and steaming its food inside retired pinot noir wine barrels. The delicious wine and food pairings can be tried on our Gourmet Wine Tour.
Wooing Tree Vineyard gets its name from the largest tree on the vineyard. When the land was first purchased by the owners, they were advised to clear the land of all shrubs and trees. Unbeknownst to the new owners there was a tree on the land called the Wooing Tree and it had long been a popular place for locals to woo their lovers. The impending removal of the tree bought a lot of locals out of the woodwork as the tree had to be saved. The Wooing Tree is a single vineyard with approximately 44,000 vines planted in 2002.